Hope for the Hopeless

It has been said that man can live for about six minutes without air, about three days without water, about forty days without food, but not one second without hope (Hal Lindsey).

I heard about an interesting scientific experiment that was conducted a while back. A group of behavioral scientists put some wharf rats in a tank of water and observed them to see how long they would survive before drowning. The average time was 17 minutes.

Then they repeated the experiment, but this time they “rescued” the rats just before the point of drowning, dried them off and returned them to their cages….fed them, and let them play for a few days, and repeated the drowning experiment. This time, the average survival time for these rats increased from 17 minutes to 36 hours! The scientists explained that phenomenon by pointing out that the second time around, the rats had HOPE. They believed that they could survive this because they had done so before. One scientist said, “They were able to survive because they had been SAVED.”

We live in a time when so many are feeling hopeless. This is affecting the young and old alike. Hope deals with the future, that tomorrow will be better than today. As we get older, more and more things happen that we can’t control. Health issues arise, we start losing our friends and love ones, and everything around us is changing; there is no hope. For younger people, they don’t see the American dream like their parents did. You must understand that hopelessness does not travel alone, but with its family. Hopelessness has a few cousins that often hang around—things like depression, bitterness, loneliness, fear, and helplessness. David talked about this in Psalms 143:4-7.

I am losing all hope; I am paralyzed with fear. I remember the days of old. I ponder all your great works and think about what you have done. I lift my hands to you in prayer. I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain.

Come quickly, Lord, and answer me, for my depression deepens. Don’t turn away from me, or I will die.       NLT

What happened when David lost hope? David tells us that fear changed his actions and, instead of looking to the future, he was living in the past. Not only did it affect him emotional and physically, but it also affected him spiritually. His depression was worsening, and he was thinking about death.

How do we define hope? Let’s start by saying it is not wishful thinking nor positive thinking. The hope that I am speaking of isn’t, “I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow,” but something far greater.

For a Christian our hope is found and centered in God. It is a sure hope, a joyful, confident expectation of what God is going to do on our behalf (Romans 15:13). Another way to say it is, “hope is the future tense of faith” (Romans 4:18; Hebrews 11:1). The way I like to define hope is Divine optimism, not just optimism, but Divine optimism.

I believe this little story will help us understand. A boy and his father were planning a fishing trip for the next day. That evening as the father was putting his son to bed, the boy hugged his father’s neck and said, “Daddy, thank you for tomorrow.” How could a boy thank his father for something that had not yet happened. Simple, he knew him. He did not just know about his father, but he knew his father. He knew his father’s character. You and I know our heavenly Father’s character. He is God, all good, and there is no bad in Him (Psalm 119:68; Psalm 23:6;1 Chronicles 16:34). Also, he knew his father would not lie, but would do what he said he would do. I am so thankful today that our heavenly Father does what He said He would do for us (Romans 4:21; Hebrews 10:23).

Let me end this with a little poem I found many years ago. Always remember: there is never a night that a sunrise couldn’t defeat or a problem that could not be defeated by hope.

Two frogs fell into a deep cream bowl,
 One was an optimistic soul
 But the other took the gloomy view,
 “I shall drown,” he cried, “and so will you.”
 So with a last despairing cry,
 He closed his eyes and said, “Good-bye.”
 But the other frog, with a merry grin,
 Said, “I can’t get out, but I won’t give in!
 I’ll swim around till my strength is spent.
 For having tried, I’ll die content.”
 Bravely he swam until it would seem
 His struggles began to churn the cream.
 On the top of the butter at last he stopped
 And out of the bowl he happily hopped.
 What is the moral? It’s easily found.
 If you can’t get out—keep swimming around!

Scriptures used

Rom 15:13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 4:18 Abraham had no natural hope to have a child but based on the promise of God he hoped and made this hope sure by his faith.

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Psalm 119:68 You are good, and do good; teach me Your statutes.

Psalm 23:6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

1 Chronicles 16:34 Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.

Romans 4:21 and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.

Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;

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